San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Gas pains push Costa Rica government plans

Government officials warned Costa Ricans yesterday that the nation’s oil bill by year’s end could be double that seen in 2007, and they forecast more measures to stanch consumption.

“We’re moving from an oil bill of $1,451 million (in 2007) to a current estimate for this year of up to $2,860 million,” said Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias in a press conference yesterday afternoon. “So that you can judge the magnitude (of that increase), this bill would represent 9 percent of gross domestic product.”

Driving deeper his point, Arias said the amount earned from Costa Rica’s top four exports – coffee, bananas, sugar, beef and pineapple – would just meet the amount the country’s oil bill has increased this year alone.

“That’s how serious the situation is and that’s why a group of ministers is talking about preparing more measures to complement those that were announced on Thursday” to conserve fuel, Arias said.

The government last week announced a cross-ministry and multi-pronged plan to attack fuel consumption. Increasing access to public transportation is a key part of the government’s plan.

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